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The 'little sparrow' who was a great nostalgia milker


Image result for edith piaf

When one talks of artists one must resist obfuscating seminar jargon and get oneself mentally out of the faculty lounge.

Edith Piaf was emblematic of a whole underclass, the downtrodden women of Paris and anywhere else.

Alienation (thank you Karl Marx) is always a useful sense to deploy in 'art: take the following song
'La Foule' (the crowd)

AS Bee Wilson in the LRB points out:

 The song is about a woman whose destiny is in the hands of the crowd – Piaf had been making a living out of crowd hysteria since she was a child in the 1920s, singing in Belleville and Pigalle.

The heroine of ‘La Foule’ is jostled by a jubilant crowd celebrating a feast day. She is pushed into the arms of a stranger, with whom she falls in love, only to be dragged away from him again by the crowd, ‘who dance a mad farandole’ that drowns out the sound of her beloved’s voice. She ‘clenches her fists’ and curses the crowd for having stolen her love.

Listen to it
and look at this rendition by Piaf at:

In October 1963 hundreds of thousands of onlookers lined the streets of Paris for her funeral. ‘She was a woman of the people, like me, like us,’ one of the onlookers told a reporter. People turned to her again after the Charlie Hebdo killings of January last year and again after the Paris terror attacks in November. At the American Music Awards that month, as a tribute to the 130 who died, the Canadian singer Celine Dion sang Piaf’s ‘Hymne à l’amour’ to a montage of Paris landmarks. 

When he was still the Labour leader, Ed MilibandImage result for ed miliband

 chose it as one of his Desert Island Discs. 

Which makes one wonder, like Ed the great self- deluder, now a lizard darting among his political ruins,  are we all deluding ourselves when we listen to Piaf

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